Garden Plots near Kuskov Embankment, Tot'ma, Russia


This view of garden plots near the Kuskov Embankment in Tot'ma (Vologda Oblast) was taken in 1996 by Dr. William Brumfield, American photographer and historian of Russian architecture, as part of the "Meeting of Frontiers" project at the Library of Congress. Located on the Sukhona River, Tot’ma for centuries was part of an important trading network that led from the Russian heartland northward to the White Sea. This network, and its links to Saint Petersburg and Moscow, sustained the prosperity of such river towns. Tot’ma's range even extended to the New World, via Alaska. Among Tot'ma's notable citizens was Ivan Kuskov, the first commandant of Fort Ross in California. This view, taken from the bell tower of Church of the Dormition, is typical of small towns in the Russian north, where a short growing season demands carefully organized use of the rich soil. Potato plants take up the majority of the space, with carrots and onions in smaller plots. The small frame with plastic sheeting encloses tomato plants. The wooden house of the owner is in the center, partially obscured by trees. In the background are warehouses and commercial buildings from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as small Soviet-era apartment houses (upper left). Three tall birches stand gracefully in the foreground.

Last updated: January 11, 2016